Amid accusations that alternative fuel sources such as ethanol and biodiesel are responsible for high food prices, employees of Minden-based Bently Biofuels are sticking up for themselves and their industry. General Manager Carlo Luri says that alternative fuels are not only good for the environment but also for the economy.
"Alternative fuels make a small footprint, but they are still adding more to the market and lowering prices," Luri said. "Diversity is good for the economy."
Named after its founder and owner, Minden entrepreneur Don Bently, Bently Biofuel's full-service alternative fuel station and convenience store is scheduled to open off Buckeye Road in early fall.
Luri pointed out that the company's current biodiesel pump, located at their factory, consistently offers lower prices than other diesel vendors in Northern Nevada.
"We have trucks coming all day, whether pickups or big trucks," said Luri. "The Kingsbury Express vehicle fills up here."
However, Luri couldn't promise continued low prices. He said in a truly competitive market, prices are subject to increase.
"I don't want to instill an unrealistic expectation that our biodiesel costs nothing to make," Luri said.
One advantage Bently Biofuels has over other vendors is that it makes its own diesel, mostly from discarded restaurant grease, so customers don't have to pay for the added costs of shipping, refining and distribution.
The new fuel station will emphasize its homegrown biodiesel, but will also offer blends of ethanol from other fuel producers.
Luri said there are many misconceptions about ethanol, namely that increased corn production for ethanol is responsible for rising food costs.
"Only the starch of corn is used in ethanol production," he said. "The kernels, the protein, called distillers grain, goes to the feed lots anyway."
Luri said some producers are shifting away from corn and other raw materials and making ethanol from waste materials, like expired fruit juices.
"That's kind of our business model," he said. "Turn a low-valued product, like waste material, into a high-valued product."
Luri said all biofuels burn cleaner than regular fuels, reducing pollution, and, unlike fossil fuels, come from renewable resources. Luri also emphasized the impact small fuel companies can have on local economies.
"You might spend the same amount of money here or somewhere else, but when you buy our fuel, you're spending money in the community and keeping it in the community," he said.
The new station's convenient store is being built for LEED certification, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Construction must follow certain sustainable and eco-friendly practices, including recyclable building materials, solar power and environmentally-safe cleanup.
Lindsay Hassett is Bently Biofuel's new retail manager. She wants to create a store where not just competitive prices are taken into account but also quality of products.
"Inside, consumers are going to find products that make them healthier," she said.
Hassett said the store will carry a blend of traditional food items and organic food items. It will serve the local economy by offering as many made-in-Nevada products as possible, including Killer Salsa, baked goods from Russell's Mercantile, Tahoe Creamery ice cream and organic coffee from Carson Valley's newest coffee producer, Alpen Sierra Mountain Roasted Coffee.
"We want to showcase not just made-in-Nevada fuel, but made-in-Nevada products as well," Hassett said.
For more information about Bently Biofuels visit www.bentlybiofuels.com.